Bethesda History- Madonna of the Trail

By
Real Estate Agent with Marcie Sandalow Evers & Company Real Estate 301.758.4894

Madonna of the Trail

Did you know that our local Madonna of the Trail/Pioneer Mother monument is one of twelve identical statues throughout the US?  The idea behind the monuments can be traced back to a group of Missouri Women, who in 1912 were behind a resolution to Congress giving a formal name to the series of trails used by pioneers as they traveled West.  It was named "National Old Bethesda History- Madonna of the TrailTrails Road."  At the urging of then Judge Harry Truman, twelve statues at a cost of $1,000 each were placed in each of the twelve states along the trail. 

In 1927 sculptor August Leimback was chosen to design the statues.  They feature a pioneer woman clasping a baby with her left arm while clutching a rifle with her right.  Her young son clings to her skirt. The first monument was dedicated in 1928. 

The route extends from Washington, DC to Los Angeles, California.  Our statue (the Bethesda statue) is situated on Wisconsin Avenue between the post office and the Hyatt hotel.  Other sites include: Beallsville, Pennsylvania; Wheeling, West Virginia; Springfield, Ohio; Richmond, Indiana; Vandalia, Illinois; Lexington, Missouri; Council Grove, Kansas; Lamar, Colorado; Albuquerque, New Mexico; Springerville, Arizona and Upland, California.

 Trivia:

-Officials of Cumberland, Maryland tried to have the Maryland Madonna of the Trail monument moved to their historic location (at the beginning of the National Road), but Bethesda rejected the request.

-Due to the positions on the site, Maryland's Madonna on Wisconsin Avenue is the only one facing east.  The eleven others face west.  In December 2004, it was necessary to remove the Madonna temporarily to repair the  foundation.  An alert reporter for the Washington Post noted that as it was placed on the flatbed truck, the Madonna faced west, believed to be the first time all twelve have done so.

-A longstanding joke about Maryland's Madonna was that she was placed facing east because no sensible American woman would think it a good idea to turn her back on Washington, DC. 

 

For more information on Bethesda, specifically East Bethesda, check out http://ebca.org for up-to-date information and neighborhood happenings.

Posted by

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Marcie Sandalow is a realtor with Evers & Company Real Estate, Inc. in Chevy Chase, DC.   
With 15+ years in the business, and a sharp understanding of her client's needs, she serves Buyers and Sellers
in and around Bethesda, Chevy Chase, Washington, DC, Kensington, Rockville, Silver Spring and Takoma Park. 

E-mail:  marcie@bccdcrealestate.com
Cell:  301/758-4894

Website:  BCCDCRealEstate.com and DCHouseSmarts.com

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Rainmaker
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David Henke
Long & Foster Real Estate, Inc - Newtown Square, PA
Realtor, Homes Just West of Philadelphia PA

Cool history that I have never heard of before.  I just had to look up Beallsville but it is in western PA.  Thanks

Jan 27, 2010 09:15 PM #1
Rainmaker
193,534
Marcie Sandalow
Marcie Sandalow Evers & Company Real Estate 301.758.4894 - Bethesda, MD
Bethesda Chevy Chase DC real estate

Thanks, David.  I wouldn't have known about the statues myself but for a road trip many years ago where I just happened upon a "duplicate" statue.  I got curious!  

Jan 27, 2010 09:28 PM #2
Rainmaker
378,324
Bob Willis
Berkshire Hathaway Home Services California Properties - Whittier, CA
Whittier Realtor® Sells Homes in Southern Cal

I found out about the statues through my family genealogy research.  My family lore claims that the model for the statue was Nancy Mounts (Mounce) Emmerson, who was married to Alan Emmerson.  I do have some pictures of some of Nancy's children, but the only image I know of Nancy is that statue.  I just don't have any actual proof that it is indeed her.

Alan Emerson was a member of the Illinois State House of Representatives at the same time as Abraham Lincoln.  Apparently they voted alike, and one time to stop a vote for slavery those opposed to slavery including Lincoln and Alan Emmerson exited through the courthouse window so a role call vote to establish a quorum couldn't be established and the vote couldn't be taken.

Jan 30, 2010 01:03 PM #3
Rainmaker
193,534
Marcie Sandalow
Marcie Sandalow Evers & Company Real Estate 301.758.4894 - Bethesda, MD
Bethesda Chevy Chase DC real estate

Fascinating!

Jan 30, 2010 01:44 PM #4
Anonymous
Bill Judge

 Bob,

   I have heard the same story but also have not been able to verify it. Do you have any photos of Nancy Mounts Emmerson's children other than Mary? I sure would like to have a copy of them if you do. I did come across some information that stated that Alan Emmerson was on the same stage as Lincoln during one of Lincoln's speeches. I found it at the Lincoln Library but was not able to get a copy at the time.

Bill Judge

Jun 01, 2011 12:00 AM #5
Rainmaker
378,324
Bob Willis
Berkshire Hathaway Home Services California Properties - Whittier, CA
Whittier Realtor® Sells Homes in Southern Cal

Bill,

I will send you a private email.

Bob

Jun 01, 2011 09:05 AM #6
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Marcie Sandalow

Bethesda Chevy Chase DC real estate
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